July 4, 2008

Oldest temples in Chennai


Sri Parthasarathy Temple

This is one of the 108 Divya desams. The name of the place came from the term - Allikkeni, meaning the temple tank of Alli flowers called Kairavinisaras. Per Legend, Thiruvengadamudayan gave dharshan as Krishnan to Chola king Sumathirajan per his request and so the deity is called Venkatakrishnan and the vigraha was installed by Attreya maharishi. The main deity is in the form of charioteer and so has a big moustache and the whole family of Krishnar - consort Rukmani, elder brother Balaramar, younger brother Satyaki, son Pradhyumna and grandson Anirudha are present in main shrine which can not be seen anywhere else. Since Krishnar promised not to take any weapons in His hands during the Mahabharatha war, He is seen here with Sangu only (without the Chakra). The Utsava vigraham bears scars supposed to be from the arrows of Bheeshmar, when he was the charioteer to Arjuna in the Mahabharatha war.

The special significance of the temple being that the perumals of the 5 divya desams - Thirupathi Venkatesa Perumal, Srirangam Ranganathar, Kancheepuram Varadarajar, Ahobilam Narasimhar and Ayodhi Ramar - are present in separate shrines. As a rarity there are two dwajasthambams one for Sri Parathasarathy and the other for Sri Narasimhar. Also during Brahmosthavams, the temple car will run twice.

Ramanujar’s father AasuriKesavacharyar conducted an yagna here and got Ramanujar as his son. Thyagarajar, Muthuswamy Dhikshithar and Bharathiar lived here. ‘Bharathiar Illam’ is very nearby and all Bharathiar songs on Krishnar are based only on this deity. Viveknandhar also visited this temple.

More details on the temple here

Sri Thiruvetteeswaran Temple

This temple at Thiruvetteeswaranpet (part of Triplicane) is a 500 years old temple. When the forest in this area was cleared off to expand the Nawab’s Chepak palace, the axe fell on a Shivalinga by mistake and blood oozed out. This temple was then built. Kasi Viswanathar and Visalakshi are also present.


Sapthasthana Temples of Shiva:

There are seven Sapthasthana (Saptha meaning seven) temples for Shiva in Mylapore worshipped by the Saptha rishis - Adri, Brigu, Kutsa, Vashishta, Gautama, Kasyapa and Angirasa. Originally they were all part of a single temple but in due course they have become separate temples. It is highly powerful to worship all the seven deities in a single trip.

More details on the Sapthasthana temples here

  1. Kapaleeswarar Temple
    Worshipped by Sage Kasyapar, this is the most popular of the Sapthasthana temples. This is one of the 275 Thevara Padal Petra Sthalams; out of these, this is one of the 40 temples that have west facing Shiva shrines. The original temple was located near the sea but got submerged in the sea and the current temple was built around 350 years back. Parvathi Devi worshipped Shiva here in the form of Peacock. The 63 Nayanmar festival is highly popular.
  2. Sri Velleeswarar Temple
    Worshipped by Sage Angeerasa, this temple is located at the South Mada street very close to the Kapaleeswarar temple. The legend has it that Asura Guru Sukracharyar worshipped Shiva here in order to regain his vision.
  3. Sri Valiswarar Temple
    Worshipped by Sage Gautama, this 2000 years old temple is located at Gopathy Narayana Chetty Street opposite to Kolavizhiamman Temple. Vali got all his powers after his tapas towards Easwaran here. Pancha lingams came out from the earth as seen in a separate shrine which is an appropriate place for meditation. There are shrines for Vinayahar, Natarajar, Goddess Sivahami, Murugar with Valli and Deivanai, Chandeeswar, Anjaneyar, Vishnu, Durgai, and Ayyappan. Navagrahas with their respective vahanas and Saneeswarar separately are present in different shrines. In the Southwest of the outer praharam, a lizard has been carved out to indicate that this is a Parihara sthalam.
  4. Sri Theerthapaleeswarar Temple
    Worshipped by Sage Adri, this temple is located in the Dr.Natesan street of Krishnapet, Triplicane Mirsahib market area opposite to mosque. The temple has significance that when the seven deities of the Sapthasthana temples take bath in the sea during the Theerthavari festival in the tamil month of Masi, this deity takes the first place. Sage Agasthiar worshipped Shiva here.
  5. Sri Karaneeswarar Temple
    Worshipped by Sage Vasishta, this 12th century temple is located in the Bazaar street of Karaneeswararpet. The Shivalingam here is in square shape as seen in only Thirukkadaiyur and Kalahasthi. Since Shiva is the ‘reason’ for everything, He is called Karaneeswarar (Karanam in Tamil means reason).
  6. Sri Virupaksheeswarar Temple
    Worshipped by Sage Kutsa, this is the oldest temple of Mylapore and is near Karaneeswara temple and Mundakkanni Amman temple. Sivanesan Chettiar, who built this temple, had a daughter called Poompavai and when she died, Thirugnana Sambandhar brought her back from her burnt bones. ‘Viroopam’ means ‘Contradicting the Nature’ and since Shiva’s third eye contradicts the nature, He is called Virupaksheeswarar.
  7. Sri Malleeswarar Temple
    Worshipped by Sage Brigu, this temple is located near the Karaneeswara temple. This was once a forest of Jasmines and so the Easwaran here is called Malleeswarar. Prarthan, King of Ayodhya, was in tapas and conducted a Yagna here towards Shiva. Indhran tried to sabotage his tapas but could not. In praise of the intensity of his tapas, Shiva appeared before him along with his consort. Neem and Aswatha trees are grown together as a single tree.

Sri Madhava Perumal Temple

Located to the east of Sanskrit College and north of Kapaleeswarar temple it is very near the Mundakkanni amman temple. The temple is amazingly clean, aesthetically painted, well lit and very well maintained. Peyazhwar was born near this temple and worshipped Madhava Perumal daily. Also Thirumazhisai Azhwar was enlightened by Madhava Perumal. The legend has it that Goddess Sridevi was brought up in Bruhu Maharishi Ashram here and Madhava Perumal married her. The temple tank Sandhana Pushkarani here is the erstwhile pond of Bruhu Maharishi’s Ashram.

More details on the temple here

Sri Adhikesava Perumal temple

This is one of the oldest temples of Mylapore. As a contrast to the Madhava Perumal Temple, this is being maintained poorly.

Sri Vedhantha Desikar Temple

This is located very near the Adhikesava Perumal temple. Initially there was only Vedhantha Desikar shrine but later Srinivasa Perumal shrine also came in.

More details on the temple here

Sri Mundakkanni Amman Temple

Located at about half a kilometer north of Kapaleeswarar Temple and at a few hundred meters to the east of Sanskrit College, this is a very popular and powerful Amman temple. Amman is a Swayambu putru.

Sri Kolavizhiamman Temple

Located at Gopathy Narayana Chetty Street opposite to Valiswarar temple and to the east of Mundakkanni Amman Temple, this is a 1000 years old temple. It is said that a British lost his vision after photographing the Firewalk festival and regained his vision only after worshipping this Goddess.

Sri Ramakrishna Math Temple

The place where the temple is located is the place where Thirugnana Sambandhar brought back the daughter of Sivanesan Chettiar, Poompavai, to life after she reduced to ashes. Also Mother Sharadha Devi stayed here for a month in 1910. The specialty of the temple being that it has the combined architectural styles of Buddha, Jaina and South Indian Temples. There is a big and beautiful prayer hall where Sri Ramakrishnar’s life size marble idol is present and is being decorated very neatly and beautifully. It is a pleasure to sit there for a meditation during the evening Aarthi. The bhajans set in vibrations that can not be explained by words. It could also be an enchanting experience if one sits in the outer praharam amidst the garden (a nice sound system is there) especially with family and relatives. A beautiful place for a peaceful evening - Experience it.

Just by the side, the old temple is also present.

More details on the temple here

Sri Gnanasundara Vinayahar Temple

This is a 400 years old popular temple. Located at the junction of the St Marry’s Road and Ramakrishna Math Road, this has the following legend: The main deity here was once lying along other stones at the Dharga in Ramakrishna Math road. When Arcot Nawab was going through this route, his horse was tied to this stone but the horse got the ‘Valippu’. When the horse was untied, it came back to normalcy but when it was tied again to the stone, it got the ‘Valippu’ again. They then identified the stone as the Vinayahar idol and this temple was built.

Sri Thiruvalluvar Temple

Located very near to the Mundakkanni amman temple, this is the birthplace of Thiruvalluvar and little known even to the locals. A more than 2000 years old Iluppai tree under which Thiruvalluvar is said to have born got damaged in 1935 and the base of the tree is being protected with a cover. There is a famous incident in Thiruvalluvar-Vasuki life in which, while Vasuki was fetching water in a pot from a well, Thiruvalluvar called her and she went leaving the pot as it was but incidentally the pot remained half way as it was. This historical well can be seen here.

Ekambareswarar and Kamatchi are the main deities along with Vinayahar, Murugar, Navagrahas and Saneeswarar shrines. The Ekambareswarar shrine is considered as the birth place of Thiruvalluvar by some researchers and as the Samadhi by others.

While Thiruvalluvar is considered as the Tamil God, it is surprising that his original birth place is being maintained so poorly. What’s the point in installing a 133 feet Thiruvalluvar status at Kanyakumari keeping this place so badly? How many Tamils know that there is a temple for Thiruvalluvar right at the heart of the city? This being a temple is the only reason for this neglect by both the Dravidian parties?

Sri ApparSwamigal Temple

Located just opposite Sanskrit College


Sri Ashtalakshmi Temple at Besant Nagar

A very popular temple located right on the beach shore. The main deity here is 7 feet high Mahavishnu with Mahalakshmi. It has shrines for all the 8 Lakshmi Goddesses and is built based on the architecture of the Uthiramerur Perumal temple. Lakshmi shrines are located in the 2 tiers of the vimanam of the main Perumal shrine and is constructed in such a way that you will not come on top of any of the deities below while going over the 2 tiers.

Location: In the main Besant Nagar M.G.Road, while going towards Elliots Beach/ Velankanni church, just before the church, take the right turn to enter the Kalakshetra Colony (there is one Kalakshetra ‘Road’ at Thiruvanmiyur which is different). Go straight upto a Police booth and then take a left turn to reach the temple.

Another popular temple ‘Arupadai Murugan’ Temple is nearby.

More details in Vikatan Publication’s ‘Nimmadhi Tharum Sannidhi - part 2‘ book

Sri ArupadaiVeedu Murugan Temple at Besant Nagar

This new stone temple has shrines for all the six Padai veedu of Lord Muruga in the same direction as the original temples. The land for this was donated by MGR during his regime but the temple was built years later by NRI Chettiars. Popular temple and can be seen in many films and serials.

This is located near the Ashtalakshmi Temple. After entering the Kalakshetra Colony main road (Tiger Varadhachari Road), go straight till the T junction at the very end of the road and then turn left to reach the temple.

More details on the temple here

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